Legislative Update – November 1, 2021

2021 11/1 | Connects Page, Early Years, Education Finance, Ontario Newsroom, OPSBA News, Provincial Updates

The Legislative Assembly of Ontario remains in session.

Current Legislation

Bill 35, Equity Education for Young Ontarians Act

This legislation has been reintroduced by Liberal MPP Lucille Collard. If passed, the legislation would amend the Education Act and “require the Minister of Education to ensure that information on a number of topics is included in the curriculum for junior kindergarten, kindergarten and each grade from grade 1 through grade 12 in an age-appropriate manner. These topics include the history of colonization and its impact on the rights of Indigenous and racialized people, the ongoing racial and social inequities in Ontario and how pupils can contribute to building an inclusive and equitable Ontario.”

Status: First Reading

Bill 34, Anti-Asian Racism Education Month Act

This legislation has been reintroduced by PC MPP Vincent Ke. The Bill, if passed, proclaims May in each year as Anti-Asian Racism Education Month.

Status: First Reading

Bill 25, Early Years and Child Care Worker Advisory Commission Act, 2021

This legislation was introduced on October 20, 2021, by Bhutila Karpoche, the NDP Early Learning and Childcare Critic. If passed, the Act would create the Early Years and Child Care Worker Advisory Commission, which would develop “recommendations on how to support the early years and child care workforce and address staffing shortages, including through increased wages and improved working conditions.”

Status: First Reading

Bill 13, Supporting People and Businesses Act

The legislation was introduced on October 7, 2021, by Nina Tangri, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. It includes 25 Schedules or proposed changes to various Acts, including Schedule 8 Education Act. “The Education Act is amended to remove references to ranked ballot elections, change when boards must elect their chairs and when the chief executive officer of a board must submit a report to the Minister, and eliminate certain requirements relating to the appointment of supervisory officers.” OPSBA staff have reviewed the draft legislation and regulatory proposal and will submit a brief response.

Status: Referred to the Standing Committee on General Government

2022-23 Grants For Student Needs (GSN)

As previously announced, OPSBA will begin to gather feedback about next year’s GSN beginning with the regional meetings occurring on November 3 and November 6. OPSBA will include funding related policy resolutions and support member board funding requests that were included in correspondence.  The ministry’s guide focuses on the following topics: Mental Health Supports, Reducing Administrative Burden and Red Tape, the Learning Opportunities Grant (LOG), Urban and Priority High Schools, and the New Teacher Induction Program (NTIP). Submissions are due November 26, 2021.

COVID-19 Update / Return to School Fall 2021

As of the morning of October 29, 1,004 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in publicly funded schools in the past 14 days. Of those cases, 902 are students, 94 are staff, and eight are not identified. Two of the 4,844 schools in the province are currently closed.

On October 26, the COVID-19 Science Advisory Table released a report detailing strategies for increasing COVID-19 vaccine uptake in children and youth. These include leveraging recommendations from trusted sources; tailoring messaging and experience to children, youth, and their parents/caregivers through individual and population-based approaches; and ensuring special considerations for reaching at-risk and racialized communities.

On October 28, Minister Lecce announced a series of new measures he says will help keep students and staff safe at school, including:

  • offering take-home polymerase chain reaction (PCR) self-collection kits to all publicly funded schools across the province, with a phased rollout starting in mid-November.
  • the launch of a new “test-to-stay” approach for asymptomatic, unvaccinated students using the deployment of rapid antigen screening tests at the direction of public health units to support in-person learning and avoid whole school dismissals.
  • elevating the requirement for unvaccinated staff to undergo rapid antigen screening from two to three times per week.

OPSBA President Cathy Abraham responded to this announcement in an open letter, making a request for a return to more normal timetabling and reiterating the Association’s desire to have COVID-19 added to the list of designated diseases in Ontario Regulation 261/13 Designated Diseases under the Immunization of School Pupils Act, which Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kieran Moore has said is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Two memos were issued on October 29:

  1. Guidance on Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting for the 2021-22 School Year
  2. Policy/Program Memorandum No. 81, Provision of Health Support Services in School Settings in 2021-22: New Expectations

Trustee Code of Conduct Consultations 2021

On October 28, OPSBA made its submission to the Minister of Education and will send the same response to the online survey and regulatory proposal. The content was supported by input from the Policy Development Work Team and the feedback expressed at the trustee/school board association stakeholder meeting. OPSBA will continue to follow up with the ministry about next steps and timing.

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